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The Influencers

2017 Was a Good Year for Free the Bid

INFLUENCER: Whitehouse Post's Joni Williamson looks back at an interesting year

2017 Was a Good Year for Free the Bid

2017 was an interesting year, to say the least. While some of the shakeups were horrifying to watch unfold (um, Trump) others changed things for the better. As a woman in the film industry who has lived in LA for 16 years, I was both surprised and not surprised at all when the Harvey Weinstein news broke. If there is anything 2017 taught us both politically and in the film industry, it's that women have a long way to go in terms of being treated equally and receiving the same opportunities as men. 

Earlier in 2017, I stepped into my new role as Director of New Business Development at Whitehouse Post, where I have worked for 15 years. I feel grateful that I work at a company that has allowed, and encouraged me to grow. In an industry where men often hold the majority of key creative roles, I’m proud that 25% of the Whitehouse editorial roster is made up of women editors.  Lisa Gunning is one of those editors, and she also has a compelling career as a director. She told me about Free the Bid, a non-profit advocating for equal opportunities for women directors in advertising. Everyone knows that there are far fewer women directors working in advertising, on top of that less than 11% of creative directors at ad agencies are women. Free the Bid is working to make sure that of the three bids typically submitted for each commercial project, one will be a women director. So far over 50 of the top global advertising agencies and 12 brands including Coca-Cola, Visa and HP have joined the cause to make sure that women are included, which is the only way they will receive the opportunities needed for their careers to flourish. I thought this seemed like a great model and natural fit for editorial so I spoke with Emma Reeves, the Executive Director of Free the Bid, and then recruited several of the top editorial companies to join the cause with us. The editorial section on the Free the Bid site is being populated this month and will feature a database of women commercial editors. I’m so excited about the opportunities that this will bring to our nine very talented women editors - and all women editors and directors across the globe.

Another industry-related resolution is to challenge agencies to spot the difference in the calibre of editorial work when kept in-house versus what they will get working with a post house with 25 years of experience. It’s more than couches and client service. Our editors have been mentored by the editors before them, growing and nurturing talent from within is what we believe in and the results are clear when you look at the work. 

Personally, in 2018 I plan to focus more on fun and enjoying time with family. Perhaps more date nights with my husband, ones that don’t involve falling asleep at a dine-in movie theatre. 

I want to read a book. A good book!  Something other than 50 Shades of Gray...

Lastly, I want to get a bit more involved with charity work. It can be easy to throw some money at your favourite non-profits, but I’d like to be more physically present to set an example for my kids, something outside of being a busy working mom. I think the hardships this past year have many people thinking about what they can do to make a positive impact somewhere. 




Joni Williamson is Director of New Business Development at Whitehouse Post

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